The size and range effect: lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of electric vehicles
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEnvironmental Research Letters. 2016, 11 (5), . 10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054010
The primary goal of this study is to investigate the effect of increasing battery size and driving range to the environmental impact of electric vehicles (EVs). To this end, we compile cradle-to-grave inventories for EVs in four size segments to determine their climate change potential. A second objective is to compare the lifecycle emissions of EVs to those of conventional vehicles. For this purpose, we collect lifecycle emissions for conventional vehicles reported by automobile manufacturers. The lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are calculated per vehicle and over a total driving range of 180 000 km using the average European electricity mix. Process-based attributional LCA and the ReCiPe characterisation method are used to estimate the climate change potential from the hierarchical perspective. The differently sized EVs are compared to one another to find the effect of increasing the size and range of EVs. We also point out the sources of differences in lifecycle emissions between conventional- and electric vehicles. Furthermore, a sensitivity analysis assesses the change in lifecycle emissions when electricity with various energy sources power the EVs. The sensitivity analysis also examines how the use phase electricity sources influences the size and range effect.